Views from Srinagar
IN the atmosphere that is brewing up in India after an event
was organized in JNU one has no choice but to add to the
pitch raised to save students. The event organized in JNU was to commemorate the miscarriage of justice that had sent Afzal Guru to gallows. The crackdown on students after the event has unfolded a new wave of media trials dictated by majoritarian rule.
The only crime the students have committed is to give voice to the voiceless. Had Afzal Guru not been a victim of the “collective conscience” he won’t have had this rebirth. He is born again and will be there for time to come. The tragedy to strike Afzal’s family had many faces. He had been in captivity for more than a decade.
His trial was cruel because people and media had already taken a side. His defence was weak, he was hanged in secrecy, the verdict was based on circumstantial evidence and finally after hanging him Afzal’s body was not handed over to the family. Afzal’s hanging was criticized by groups in India as well as international based groups.
Kashmiris have met injustice and are being consumed by “nationalism” now. As such a solidarity event was held at JNU to question the injustice met by the people of Kashmir.
Now the events unfolding in India about the event are important for obvious reasons. It has started an intense debate on freedom of speech and the right to dissent in a democracy which India claims to be.
Second, it has given a new direction to the Kashmir issue. The event at JNU was not organized by paid persons or a paid group. It is India’s new and educated generation which believes in solutions through debates and discussions.
They are liberated enough to discuss the long pending issue of Kashmir for the sake of peace in the subcontinent. They understand that muscle and military might offer no solution to the dispute and dissent.
They realize the fallouts of civilian killings, rapes, forced disappearances, custodial killings, and tortures. Unfortunately Indian media and the government hijacked the true message of this event and have tried to sway the public opinion. They have validated the reasons to go hunting for students and organizers.
The right-wing party in India grabbed the opportunity to prove its worth as it labeled the dissenters and organizers as antinational. The government backed by the media seized the opportunity and generated a wave against the dissenters.
The RSS-backed party which is at centre stage gave it a much needed hype to hide its failures and tried to build a wave of sympathy for itself.
The long list of promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the time of 2014 elections has fallen short by a large measure.
The jingoistic media with right-wing extremist support have attacked every voice that tried to support the students. An atmosphere of hatred and anger has been created against the students with liberal thoughts. Without losing any time a massive crackdown was launched in the university.
The president of students union was arrested and another Umar Khalid whose family is battling for the well being of the son.
Different agencies and fringe groups are after Khalid and his family now. They are scared and there is no security that can make them feel safe. He is accused of having links with militant outfits as he is the Muslim voice in the controversy. In this atmosphere where the ruling party has created fear and psychosis among minority communities who can have a sigh of relief?
All those people who have raised their voices and returned their awards to expose the rising intolerance were told to pack for the Pakistan.
A dissenter with a Muslim name is fit to label him anything that suits the government interest. But the world is watching all the events taking place in India. People who have always refused to read the writing on the wall of Kashmir cannot conveniently ignore the truth this time.
Amid this noise that is all around, a message about Kashmir has been silently delivered to the world. Whatever happened in JNU is a common routine in Kashmir.
Slogans and demand for right to self-determination is heard in every street of the valley. If this amounts to being labeled antinational then entire Kashmir barring few will have to be put behind the bars.
Definitely JNU event has given birth to a new debate on Kashmir which India refuses to entertain. It has delivered a message to people of India about the Kashmir dispute who have been misled by media and politicians. The jingoistic media that deliberately presents only one side of the coin has kept truth away from the people of India.
The event will be remembered for giving a new beginning to Kashmir issue which our leadership could not in decade’s time. It has opened the gates once again for internationalizing the issue and to make it heard.
—Courtesy: Rising Kashmir
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